August 6, 2011

The Root of Poverty

Philippines is considered to be one of the poorest nations around the world. Political instability and corruption are two of the most pressing problem of this country. Relatively, high malnutrition, declining literacy rate, environmental degradation, and substandard subsistence wage are the major problems that needs to be solutioned.

Philippines being considered as low income country is dominated by poor, it was estimated that majority of the population is earning less than one Dollar a day. Environmental problem also exist in the Philippines. Metro Manila was considered as one of the most polluted city around the world, because of that, many people are having lung disease.

What do you think is the root of poverty? There are many causes of poverty. They come from different direction across time. And like an hour glass, as time goes by, the sand at the lower part of the glass increases. This is the reason why we are down the poverty line. We never thought that the sand would remain under the glass and if we know we might as well reverse the hour glass position. Let us see the different roots of poverty from different perspective.

There is instability in the Philippine government. Lots of money is consumed in nonsense argument of different politicians. Through out the years, the most talked issues of the news papers and TV news are all about political conflicts.

Corruption. Many people say that this is the major source of poverty in the Philippines; it is related to political instability.

Why do some children don’t go to school? Government had provided public schools for children going to primary level and high school level; yet, it sad to see that there are still some children who don’t even rich their primary schooling. The government provides free education for these young ones; yet, the cost of going to school is not only the tuition fee; there are also transportation cost, allowances and other petite costs which are shouldered by the parents of the students. That is why some students might reach high school through public schools but after that, they stop their studies because they cannot afford the expenses of college. Lucky for some to have scholarships, but, the other cost studying still burdens them. Big or small the expenses, still if they don’t have money there would be a problem in studying.

Why is there less opportunity for the unfortunates to go to college? Why is there a need for a selection of who will qualify the scholarship? Why not provide all unfortunates the scholarship? They say that “there are only few slots for scholarships.” If this will be the answer every time there are people asking for help who wants to go to college, then, only few will be lucky enough to study at higher level; only few can change their lives and get out of poverty.

In making decisions, government officials must not only focus on the majority of the beneficiaries of the project, but also, they should consider the less fortunate even if they only comprise the minorities. Education must be given a focus because this is one of the solutions to completely remove poverty from the society.

Public schools here in the Philippines is a mirror of what kind of government do we have; and students are reflections of poverty. I have been in some public schools of Batangas particularly in the mountains. And I have seen how poor are the facilities there. Students used small pencils, small as there fingers can hold; crayons that are even used in writing their notes; sleepers that cannot even rich the fingers nails of their foot. There is so much to tell about that class room. It is when you get a chalk every one wants to listen, you would see the potentials of those children in there eyes. All wants to learn, all wants to grab the opportunity they have. But it is very sad to see, that no matter those children strive hard to fight and study, poverty is within them. Every one in the class room is full of jolliness. There smiles are so deep, as deep that you can even see their decaying teeth. When I asked questions, majority raised their hands, some are shy, and others do not care. I said to them “I will give a note book and a pencil to a person who can answer the question!” number of students raised their hands, every one wants a new note book and a pencil even those who did not raise their hands, you can see it in there eyes.

Let us see the scenario in a different way. Imagine that we are in the sits of those children, in a small classroom with no electric fan and sweat is visibly seen in our smooth and tiny childish pores. We are helpless, we need help but others don’t see us there, because no one has bothered to know our conditions. How do you feel about that? Is it painful, knowing that you can not do anything, except to strive hard and manage to study using your old pencil and crayon? It is very hard to see that poverty spreads out in beats of seconds, if we don’t do our part it will continue to be in the society.

In every second many children are dying out of hunger. Some do not even eat thrice a day. If they eat, they eat leftovers thrown in the trashcans. They can be sick eating those stuffs; yet, they risk their health just to survive this harsh world. These people are commonly seen in the streets of Metro Manila. Observing them, you would notice that they are new faces of the city. This are the people who left there provinces to seek for new life in the city, yet, why they found is poverty. Until now, many people see Manila as mine of wealth because of what they are seeing and hearing from the medias. Life in the city is much different from the television. If you do not have a money, your life will not go on, you will be stocked in the middle of the neighborhood and slowly the city will eat you, until nothing is left from you.

Because parents do not have a work or they may have but their earnings are not enough to support the family needs, then child labor is being seen as their second option to sustain their family needs. I have spoken to one of the vendors of rosary in the bus near the Quiapo church; she was a girl, averaging an age of eight years old. I ask her why she was doing that work. And she answered, her earning from selling rosary would be her allowance for tomorrow. I asked her again. Where do you get those rosaries? She said that rosaries where also purchased by them in the vendors of rosaries near the Quiapo church. At that scenario, it is very clear that the child itself is doing the work in order for her to survive the trials of life. Some says that child labor is not bad, because it helps the family to sustain its needs. One thing is for sure, child labor rooted from poverty, unless no action is taken, this act will remain in the veins of our nation.

What is it in Philippine environment that made it one of the poorest nations around the world? And what is with our country that made us one of the luckiest nations in the whole world? Trees! Land! Clean water! Clean air, during the past time… Now, trees are decreasing, lands are flattened, water is not any more safe to drink and air is polluted.

Jeepney is our national transportation, yet, it is one of the major sources of air pollution in our country. We don’t need to get rid of our national identity; we just need to clean these vehicles for them to work friendly with the environment. By doing this, air will be less polluted and the one who will benefit from the change is also the society.

During the past, Pasig River is still in good shape; people wash their clothes and take their baths there. But what happened to its beauty? There are many stories to tell about the Pasig River, but now, it is dying. The city blossomed around the river, and the water was covered with dirt of the region. The Pasig River is the mirror and smell of the city. Just by looking at it, you could see what your future could be. We may be rich or we may be poor but we do not have an escape on the environment that we created. Poverty of the environment still leaves in us. And what’s next? Our health; health is wealth, but money cannot buy health. Slowly the city will kill us, until the only thing that is left from us is our money.

Health is a factor for economic growth. We cannot be productive in work if we are not feeling well. As mentioned earlier, one of the factors affecting our health is the environment. But what shall we do if the environment is already degraded and other factors affecting our health are present? If this is the case, then, government must provide a good public health service. Not all people can afford to go to private hospitals, so there is a need for government intervention.

We have a minimum wage, but don’t have a subsistence wage. Minimum wage is not enough to cover our daily expenses. Usually, it is just enough to feed one person. How can we survive this age if we don’t have enough money for our daily needs? People are malnourished, and it is affecting their work. Some times, to get rid of hunger they just smoke cigarettes or buy instant non-nutritious food. Malnutrition is what we get, poverty is the result.

Poverty has different perspective; it is connected with the different problems of the society. What I mentioned earlier are the major problems caused by poverty. There are lots of roots of poverty. How smaller they maybe, still it grows and gets bigger. When you throw a small piece of candy wrapper on the street, this can be the root of poverty. When you cheat on your exams, you could grow corrupt. Think about it; are you the root of poverty? If you are, I think it is time for you to change. Because the hour glass is running; until the lower part is not full you can start reversing it. Don’t let the sand come to its end, because when it does, there would be no time left for our country.

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